Karnataka floods: over 1 lakh hectares of coffee plantations damaged in Kodagu

Ravaged: A coffee estate in Mudigere taluk of Chikkamagaluru district that has been damaged by a landslip.

Ravaged: A coffee estate in Mudigere taluk of Chikkamagaluru district that has been damaged by a landslip.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Planters say they will need at least 10 years for redevelopment

Coffee growers in Kodagu are staring at yet another difficult year and may end up with recurring distress from last week’s flood and landslips.

Rain fury from the start of this month has destroyed plantations, and incessant rainfall has resulted in extensive berry-dropping. In the worst cases, there has been destruction of entire estates. The exact extent of damage to the standing crop is yet to be assessed, but according to initial estimates of the Kodagu district administration, 1,02,034 hectares of coffee estates have been damaged. The crop loss is pegged at ₹51.85 crore.

The growers had already suffered huge losses in last year’s deluge, and planters were hoping for a recovery this year. Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru planters say they need at least 10 years to redevelop the plantations, and in some cases, it may take more than that.

According to the Coffee Board, the coffee-growing areas in Karnataka — Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, and Hassan districts — had excessive rainfall of 46% to 98% from January to September last year. In Kodagu alone, the crop loss was estimated at 25,020 tonnes.

The crop loss in Chikkamagaluru and Hassan districts has been estimated at 17,250 tonnes and 5,980 tonnes, respectively. The statistics are based on the crop loss assessment conducted by the board after last year’s calamity.

This year, many estates have been damaged in parts of Baluru and Kalasa hoblis in Mudigere taluk of Chikkamagaluru. Karthik of Madhugundi village said his family had been growing coffee for many decades and refused to diversify into the homestay business. “We wanted to continue with traditional farming. Now, a major portion of the estate is lost because of landslips,” he said. His family owns over 50 acres of estate. Now, only about 5 to 10 acres have survived, that too not in a contiguous patch.

Speaking to The Hindu, C.K. Belliappa, secretary of the Codagu Planters’ Association, said, “Berry-dropping from the standing crop has been widespread, besides crop inundation.” He said south Kodagu is the worst affected this year and many plantations in Thora in Virajpet taluk, which had major landslips, have been destroyed. “We are in touch with the board and have explained about our plight. The board will make a correct assessment of the loss and we will await its report for seeking relief.”

‘Compensation inadequate’

One planter said the extent of compensation they got last year was not commensurate with the losses. The district administration has said farmers would get ₹12,400 per ha for desilting of heaps of mud and sand collected on their land. However, the amount paid last year was not sufficient, considering the loss they had suffered, they said. “If a 20-acre estate was destroyed, the relief was to the extent of loss suffered by a farmer having a two-acre plantation,” said a planter.

B. Shivakumar, Deputy Director (Extension), Coffee Board, Madikeri, told The Hindu that the crop loss assessment had commenced and it would take some time to get a clear picture on losses. “Excessive moisture that remains after rain is also detrimental to the crop,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:51:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/over-1-lakh-hectares-of-coffee-plantations-damaged-in-kodagu/article29103764.ece

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